Tracking Down Maggie: The Unofficial Biography of Margaret Thatcher

Watch Tracking Down Maggie: The Unofficial Biography of Margaret Thatcher

  • NR
  • 2006
  • 1 hr 21 min
  • 6.8  (193)

Tracking Down Maggie: The Unofficial Biography of Margaret Thatcher is a documentary film directed and narrated by British filmmaker Nick Broomfield, which was released in 1994. The documentary presents a pursuit-style biography of Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, known for her strong conservative policies and formidable political persona. Thatcher, also known as the "Iron Lady," served as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990 and was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century.

The movie follows Broomfield, whose signature style of investigative journalism is characterized by his provocative methods and his relentless drive to uncover the truth, as he attempts to gain an interview with Thatcher and delve into her personal and political life. Unlike traditional biographies, Broomfield's approach relies on his personal quest to get closer to his subject, often pushing the boundaries of conventional documentary filmmaking. This method results in a unique blend of biography, satire, and political critique.

Margaret Thatcher, as a political leader, wrought significant changes in the United Kingdom, instituting a series of economic policies that were dubbed "Thatcherism." Her leadership was marked by a push towards free-market policies, the reduction of state intervention, and the privatisation of many state-owned enterprises. Her tenure also witnessed significant social and political conflicts, including the miners' strike and the Falklands War.

Despite holding such a prominent place in British history, Thatcher herself remains an elusive figure in the documentary. Broomfield's quest is met with various hurdles, in part because Thatcher, who was no longer the Prime Minister by the time of filming, had adopted a very tight control over her public image and interactions. This creates a dynamic in which the documentary's narrative is as much about the pursuit and the barriers erected by Thatcher's team as it is about the former Prime Minister.

The film embraces the theme of "unofficialness" by featuring interviews and insights from a variety of sources, including those who may not have been part of the inner circle but nevertheless offer perspectives on Thatcher's personality, leadership, and impact. Among the individuals interviewed is Ari Ben-Menashe, who has claimed involvement in intelligence circles and international affairs, and who contributes his own controversial insights into the Thatcher era.

One of the distinctive features of Tracking Down Maggie is the way it weaves together a mosaic of opinions—from those of the political elite to ordinary citizens—painting a broad picture of a leader who inspired both fervent support and adamant opposition. This is enhanced by Broomfield's plucky, often informal style of engaging with subjects and soliciting unguarded comments.

The film does not merely rehash Thatcher's well-known political milestones; instead, it attempts to burrow into the lesser-seen, personal aspects of her life, exploring the character behind the public façade. It examines the implications of Thatcher's gender in the male-dominated world of politics, her rise to power, the loyal following she commanded, and the critical voices that challenge her legacy.

Broomfield's documentary technique is sometimes seen as controversial and confrontational. He does not shy away from questioning both the proponents and critics of Thatcherism, reflecting the deep divisions that the former Prime Minister's reign instilled in British society. His interactions with Thatcher's security detail, with journalists who covered her career, and with various members of the political establishment, form a narrative that shows the difficulty of pinning down the real Margaret Thatcher.

The use of humour, irony, and a light touch in tackling serious political issues is a hallmark of Broomfield's work, giving Tracking Down Maggie an entertaining edge despite its serious undertone. The film can be seen as a chase, a humorous caper with the filmmaker often portrayed as the beleaguered underdog, but it also raises questions about media access, the nature of political power, and the creation of public personas.

While the documentary may not provide a comprehensive account of Thatcher's policies, it successfully captures the essence of the time period and offers a unique perspective on one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century. Tracking Down Maggie: The Unofficial Biography of Margaret Thatcher captures the game of cat-and-mouse between filmmaker and subject, ultimately offering a portrait that is as much about the process of biography as it is about the Iron Lady herself.

Tracking Down Maggie: The Unofficial Biography of Margaret Thatcher doesn't appear to be available from any streaming services.
Add this movie to your Watchlist to get notified when it's available.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 21 min
  • IMDB Rating
    6.8  (193)